Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 21

Chapter 21
"Where are we?" Bella asked breathlessly, scrambling over the console of the Volvo.
"It doesn't matter. Anywhere. Nowhere. Come here," I growled, sliding the seat back as far as it could go and pulling her to my lap.
She was driving me crazy. She'd been driving me crazy all damn day. It was supposed to be a simple shopping trip into Bangor, but everything she did, everything she said, even her sweet, happy laugh, pushed me closer and closer to just taking her. It could've been anywhere, and I wasn't quite sure if I cared that anyone in that God-forsaken mall heard her when she called my name. In fact, after several flirting boys – and one oblivious girl – it had been all I could do not to force her into the closest dressing room just to bury myself deep inside of her, to claim her as mine.
It was everything about her – her tight jeans, her form-fitting thermal shirt, her dark curls that cascaded over her shoulders, her deep brown eyes that sparkled with so much love and mischief that I could barely breathe, and it was the way she simply responded to everything I couldn't stop myself from doing. I touched, flirted, teased, and stole kisses every time the opportunity had arisen.
Maybe it was the holidays, maybe it was the freedom of being away from a full house, or maybe I was completely and totally neck deep in a moment. I couldn't quite tell. And I really wasn't sure I gave a shit at this point. There would be no making it back to the house. I fucking wanted her.
My hand gripped her hair at the base of her head at the same time the other palmed her ass and tugged her closer. Our mouths met open and ready, and I couldn't help the moan of satisfaction that just tasting her brought to me. Bella's whole body rolled in the most beautiful and tortuous waves as she threaded her fingers into my hair.
"Bella," I moaned as I trailed my lips down her cheek to her neck, but even to my own ears, it sounded more like whining. "Please, baby... I can't make it home," I admitted softly. It was the reason I'd found the first deserted road I could find.
She smiled against my jaw. "I know, Edward. Back seat."
"Mm," I purred low, unable to help myself. Cupping either side of her face, our heavy-lidded, black eyes locked. "You're too fucking good to me."
"I believe it was you that said that we're essentially selfish creatures, handsome," she crooned, pressing her forehead to mine. "I have you alone...all to myself. Think I'm in a hurry to get home?" Her voice was almost teasing as her fingers deftly unbuttoned my shirt.
Swallowing thickly, I shook my head no. "Back seat," I finally repeated. "And those jeans better be on the floorboard by the time I get back there."
With a sexy giggle, she crawled into the back seat. I clawed at my hair, taking a deep breath and giving our surroundings one more quick glance. It was lightly snowing, and we were well hidden off the main highway. However, I was really, really grateful that the windows were tinted, because I was about to take her in front of God and everybody.
I couldn't crawl over the seat like my girl did, so as fast as I could, I hopped out of the driver's side and slid into the back. The door hadn't even closed before she was back on my lap, only this time, she was smooth legs and tiny underwear.
"Good girl," I told her, reveling in skin and silk and rolling hips.
She kissed me stupid, kissed me to the point that my hands lost all control. They slipped underneath her shirt and tugged down her bra in order to expose her hardened peaks. Had we been human, the inside of the car would've fogged up with the heavy breathing we were both pushing out. I cupped, squeezed, pinched, finally lifting her shirt so that I could taste and suck and bite.
"Edward, baby..." Bella whimpered, cupping my face and pulling back to look me in the eyes. "You okay?"
"" I stammered, smirking at her giggle. "I just... Fuck, Bella, I need you. You drove me crazy today."
"I didn't mean to," she said apologetically.
Chuckling darkly, I simply shook my head. "You can't help it, my sweet, beautiful girl. So many thoughts about you today," I growled, my brow furrowing. "And I could smell you..."
"Your fault," she huffed, leaning in to kiss me again. Her tongue was desperate, claiming, and so very sweet and deep.
My fingers slipped beneath the edge of her underwear, meeting warm, wet, and swollen. Palming it possessively, I broke away from her mouth.
"Fuck, baby. You need me, don't you?" I whispered, nipping at her bottom lip as my fingers teased but didn't quite give in.
"More than I can tell you... Right there, Edward...and don't stop!"
Her mind was a cacophony of images, words, and needs. But at the very top of that list was my voice. It had seemed like ages since we'd just let go, since we'd been away from super hearing, empaths, and future seers. We'd hunted not long after Thanksgiving, which was two weeks ago, and we'd spent the day at our waterfall, but with the holidays, Archie, and way too many of us, it seemed impossible to get her alone.
Bella pressed down onto my hand, coating my palm and fingers in her arousal. Grinning when her eyes rolled back into her head at the feel of just a touch of friction, I moaned at the sight of her.
"Sit up on your knees," I told her. "It spreads open this needy pussy for me."
She whimpered as her warm hands slipped up my exposed stomach and chest, and she finally braced herself on my shoulders just under my open shirt while her knees straddled me. Her mouth hung open, her forehead pressed to mine, and pleas were a whispered chant.
"Don't tease, don't tease, don't tease. You've done that all damn day, Edward," she rasped, leaning into me.
I wanted to laugh, but she was right. I had teased her all day – kisses to her neck, touches when no one was looking, and my words. Hell, I'd almost told her how many ways I wanted to take her right in the middle of the video game store, but it wasn't without reason. The boy behind the counter had unfortunately had a vivid imagination. His thoughts of her played out like a combination of a porn and violent anime. It was disturbing and vile, and he'd had no idea just how rough my Bella could get. He wouldn't have survived a minute with her, but I could take it. Gladly.
"Sorry, my love..." I murmured, losing myself in the sight of my own hand disappearing into her sexy baby blue underwear. "I promise...I'll make up for it."
I slid two fingers deep inside of her, curling to find the spot I knew so well. Her wetness increased tenfold, causing me to smile up at her wickedly when she cried out.
"You like that, don't you?" I purred, nipping at the peaked nipples that were right in front of me, but my eyes never left her stunning and overwhelmed face. "It's why you watch my hands when I play the piano, isn't it? Tell me, my naughty girl."
"Fuck, yes," she hissed, her head falling back a little.
"You imagine them deep inside of you, touching you...making you come for me."
She moaned long and low, her fingers digging into my shoulders when my thumb swirled languidly around her clit. The answer was a loud and resounding yes in her mind, and she was so very close. And I needed to see it, feel it, watch her fall apart over me, around me...from the inside. I needed it more than anything, to the point that I was begging her.
"Come, baby...come," I whispered against the sweet-smelling skin just below her jaw as my thumb applied just a little more pressure and my fingers curled just a little bit more. "I want you so wet when I sink inside of you. Wetter than this..."
That was really all it took to send her over the edge. The combination of my hands and my voice was all she needed. In her mind, it had been too long since Dirty Edward had been free to make an appearance. Free was the key word. She wanted me uninhibited.
Purring as she came down from her high, I pressed kisses to her lips, chin, and throat. Her eyes were sated, though no less heated than they were before.
"I'm sorry I drove you crazy," I told her in a whisper against her lips. "You're too sexy to ignore. And too many thoughts wanted what was mine."
"Mmm," she hummed contentedly against my lips, slipping her fingers back into my hair. "You look...tortured, Edward."
Her voice stated it like fact, but when she pulled back a little, her eyes drifted down to where I was so hard for her. My jeans were so tight, they were almost painful. Her eyes locked onto my hand as I pulled it from her underwear, immediately taking the flavor of her in my mouth.
"So fucking good, love," I murmured, feeling my eyes darken even further. "If I could, I'd take my time with you, but..."
"But they're expecting us back to go get the tree," she finished for me, and I nodded forlornly. "Edward, I will take care of you. I promise. Tell me how you want me."
I shook my head because I wasn't quite articulate enough to tell her, especially when her small fingers were already working on the button and zipper of my jeans. I'd maintained just long enough to help her come first, but my restraint had left the building...or the car, as the case was.
My grip on her ass tightened as she shifted over me. It was all I could do not to slam her down over me, bury myself deep inside of her.
"Baby, look at me," she whispered, cupping my face with one hand as she ground down on my already-leaking cock. When my eyes met hers, she smiled softly. "I've got you, okay?" She placed a hand over my still heart. "I feel it. Do you?"
"Yes." I nodded fervently because my chest was about to explode with the feel of our connection, the shocking electric crackle that buzzed all around us and through her very touch.
I was glad she knew, that she was able to take control, because mine was gone. I wrenched her underwear to the side, not bothering to remove or tear them. I'd needed her hours ago. The very feel of her sliding down onto me, surrounding me in tight warmth and wetness, caused a multitude of sinful things to erupt from my mouth.
"Mmhmm," she purred in praise, smirking down at me. "More, Edward. Let it out."
"So good, so good," I rambled, my head falling back to the headrest behind me. I was merely enjoying her ride me. " good."
My mouth captured a tight peak as she leaned forward, her hips rolling – up, down, in, out – slowly but with the clear intention of making me come. My girl knew what she was doing to me, because a small wicked smile curled the corners of her mouth.
"Tell me how good," she whispered against my jaw, dragging lips and teeth along my skin up to my ear. "Now. Tell me..."
"So good," I repeated, sounding like a incoherent broken record. "I love to watch you ride my cock, Bella. You look like you love it."
"I do. So much."
"Oh yeah..."
"Faster, love. Harder."
The whole car shook as she picked up the pace, but it wasn't enough. I needed harder, closer...just more. Shifting quickly, I loomed over her with her leg in the crook of my arm. The space in the back seat was limited, but I thrust into her as deeply as I could go. Her gasp made me stop completely.
"God, more..." she growled, glaring at me when I stilled. Fingers dug into my bicep and my ass to pull me deeper, her hips lifting up slightly.
"Am I too deep?"
"Never. Don't stop!"
"Good," I grunted, "then put that other leg on the floor... Open up for me because I really need to fuck the shit out of you."
My Bella's smile was wicked and sexy, filled with carnal intentions. She met me thrust for thrust, causing the whole car to test its shocks. It truly was a good thing I'd pulled off the main highway because we wouldn't have gone unnoticed. Growls and whimpers ghosted between us. Pleas for more and vows to give it were mere whispers. Kisses were rough and deep and awkward, but it didn't stop us.
Bella clawed at my back, my ass, my shoulders. My own hands tried their damnedest not to destroy my car.
"Oh fuck...there!"
"Here?" I verified, pressing my forehead to hers and hitting the same exact spot.
"Yes, Edward."
"Again, name."
"Edward..." It came out breathy, raspy, and so very sexy.
It was the sound I needed. It was my name that erupted from her lips, not the men today in the stores. I was fucking her harder than the boy in the video store could ever even conceive of fucking her. It was my cock, not the young blond at the shoe store, whose face had paled at the sight of her. I slammed into her over and over, erasing the memory of the girl in the lingerie store who had imagined Bella in everything they sold. By that time, I'd just about reached my limit, and I'd wanted to describe in utter detail just how much my Bella loved my cock, simply to make her go away. I'd truly come close to losing my sanity at the end. I'd been unable to keep my hands off of her at that point, which brought us to where were at that moment.
"Come, sweet girl," I begged her, my fingers finding her sweet clit one more time. "Let me feel you..."
Her heel dug into the floorboard of the car, causing an eerie sound of bending metal to echo around us, but I didn't care. My girl could shatter the whole damn thing for all I cared. Buying a new car would be worth it just to watch her come that hard for me. Her body arched up, her fingers clawed at my ass, and her eyes rolled back as she came so fucking hard.
Burying my face in her neck, I rode out her climax, giving her that much more pleasure, only to finally give in. My whole body shook with force as I filled her in several long spurts. Unable to hold her the way that I wanted, I sat us back up again, keeping her wrapped around me.
My head fell back to the headrest again as I gazed at my Bella through now-very sated eyes.
She smirked, shaking her head at me while her fingers ran slowly through my hair over and over. "That wasn't a moment."
", probably not." I huffed a weary laugh. "That was..."
"You being all possessive."
"Yeah, probably." Her sweet giggle made me grin. "I love you."
"Love you, too, Edward," she chortled, kissing my lips softly. She smirked at me again. "You get all blind when things happen like today, my handsome man. You get stared at, too, you know."
"Don't care."
"I know. And you know I don't care, either."
She sighed when I shrugged a shoulder, but I got lost in the beauty of her face for a moment.
"We should go, sweet girl," I whispered, tucking her hair behind her ears.
She smiled one more time, kissed me, and nodded slowly. "Okay."
Bella helped me right my clothes, and I did the same for her, but I stopped her before she crawled back into the front seat.
"Thanks for putting up with me today," I said with a chuckle. "I know I was being a possessive ass."
She laughed, trailing a finger down the slope of my nose. "Thanks for finding a secluded spot, baby."
"Right." I laughed with her, popping her butt as she climbed over. "Like I was really going to make it home," I murmured, grinning as I got out of the back and into the front. I met her amused gaze after starting the engine. "Christmas tree time...yeah?" When she nodded, I turned the car around to head back to the main road.
"My mother picked our trees out from right here," Archie said softly, his mind filled with memories. They were memories he was happy to relive.
"Well, let's see what we can find," Rose told him, and we split up. "Do we really need two this year?" she called over her shoulder.
"Yes," Alice and Esme stated exasperatedly at the same time as everyone spread out through the woods.
"Guess that's a yes," Carlisle muttered under his breath, which made me laugh. "Shut up, son."
"Apparently, there's one going in the library and one in the living room's front window," I told him, ignoring his eye roll. "God knows...we have enough ornaments."
"And Jasper Whitlock, would you please check for squirrels this time?" Bella yelled from about four yards away.
"Yeah, yeah..." he sighed, though his mind was highly amused. "For the record, that wasn't my fault. That damn squirrel jumped back in the tree when I wasn't looking."
Carlisle laughed softly, his comment only for me. She's going to tear him up in three,
"You have a super sense of smell, and he snuck up on you?!" Bella growled. "He just about destroyed the house in Rochester! Jasper, you hunt animals to eat..."
Carlisle and I snorted into hysterics. Just watching and listening to them all was hilarious. The ones that were enjoying it the most were Adrian and Kevin. Being from Manhattan, they hadn't exactly gone out to pick out their own Christmas tree growing up, so this was something new for them. As for the rest of us, it was a tradition we'd been doing for years. Even Bella had gone out with Charlie once.
"Mom!" Kevin called. "I vote this one for the living room."
Esme rushed over to see, and she rubbed her chin as she contemplated it. "It could work. It needs some trimming."
"You'd think this was brain surgery," I murmured to Carlisle as we leaned against a rather large pine tree off to the side.
He grinned over at me. "It's way more complicated than that."
"Hmm, probably." I chuckled, shaking my head.
Archie and Emmett picked out the tree for the library, the girls gathered a few pine cones for decoration, and just as we were about to carry it all back to the house, Alice appeared in front of me.
We have a problem. Or a potential one, anyway. Her thoughts were calm because a few scenarios were playing out in her mind. All of them looked to end well, but still, this was something that the whole family needed to know about.
"You're sure?" I asked her, and she nodded. "Today?"
"Yes...looks like a few hours from now," she said aloud, but her thoughts weren't meant for everyone. It's something Archie should know. He may want to hide. I see it playing out several ways.
I took a deep breath and let it out. The whole family was waiting for us. They stayed quiet, patiently giving us the moment. They were used to it.
Bella's hand slipped into mine at the same time Carlisle asked, "What is it?"
"Looks like we'll be getting visitors today," I told him. "Mrs. Delap is dropping off Christmas gifts to her current and former clients. It looks like she'll be here in a few hours."
"Visitors? As in more than one?" Carlisle verified, making sure he'd heard me right.
"Yes. She'll have her daughter and a few friends with her," I sighed, my nose wrinkling at the thought.
"Oh, boy," Bella murmured.
Carlisle paced a bit, his mind concerned with several things, but the most prominent was Archie. He looked around at us all, saying, "Archie, son, come here." When Archie stood before him, he placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "I need to know what you want to do. I know that Edward and Bella took you around humans not so long ago, but this will be different. They'll be trapped in the house with you. The scent will be stronger, more potent."
Archie nodded, looking nervous. He didn't want to mess up, but he wasn't sure if he was ready to play the part that the rest of us were used to playing.
"I can keep him with me," Bella offered, turning to Archie. "Even if you're not ready to face them, we can stay down in your room or something," she suggested.
"Thank you, Bella," Carlisle said and then turned to me. "I'll need you with me..."
"Yes, sir," I replied with a nod. I'd already prepared to listen to the thoughts of the humans.
We started to head back, but Archie stopped us.
"I'd..." He swallowed thickly, shaking his head. "I'd like to try, Carlisle. I just... I don't want to fail you."
Smiling, I pressed it into the top of Bella's head.
"We won't let you fail, Arch," Kevin vowed, shaking his head.
"Nah, impossible," Jasper added. "And if it gets to be too much, then you'll just have Bells take you somewhere."
Looking to Alice, I waited as she sorted through each possibility. Every outcome was the same – Mrs. Delap and company left our home unscathed...and none the wiser. However, I couldn't help but note that Ronnie didn't look too pleased.
"What was..." I started, but Alice cut me off.
"Not sure," she replied, shrugging a shoulder. "He's not exactly Mr. Happy anyway."
I grinned. "Okay. Then let's get Archie ready."
"Archie, you need to understand the part you're about to play," Bella told him as they decorated the tree in the library.
He gently hung a bright red ornament on a higher branch and looked to her with wide eyes. "I'm not sure I can..."
"You don't have to talk, sweetie. No one is insisting anything, but she's right, and you should know how you'll be seen," Rose said, adjusting the lights.
I watched them from the piano bench. I'd been playing Christmas carols softly just to keep Archie calm, and whether he knew it or not, it was working. He was willing to listen to any insights or pieces of wisdom any of us were willing to share with him. He'd almost been on overload on the way back to the house from getting the trees, but he'd taken it well.
However, the one that wasn't taking it well was Kevin. He really wasn't happy that the "neo-Nazi, abusive bastard" was coming to his home. It bothered him to no end, and it was taking everything Carlisle and Adrian were telling him to keep him calm. I wasn't sure I blamed him. I didn't like Ronnie, either.
As Rose and Bella explained the family dynamic in the eyes of humans, I listened around the house. Alice and Esme were stocking the kitchen, something we hadn't had to do just yet. Jasper and Emmett were attaching the stand onto the tree that was to go into the living room. When they were done with that, my brothers and I were suppose to hang lights on the outside of the house. But for now, I was keeping an eye on Archie.
"So...okay," he sighed, handing ornament after ornament to Bella as she stood on a stepladder. "Emmett, Kevin, and Edward are all adopted. They have the last name Cullen. You and Adrian are brother and sister...Swan."
I wanted to kiss my girl senseless when she smiled brilliantly at him and encouraged him to continue.
"Rosalie Hale and Jasper Whitlock," he said, pointing to Rose. "And then Alice Brandon."
"Perfect, Archie," Rose praised.
Archie's brow furrowed, and he suddenly wondered where he'd fit in.
"We can't use Varner, Archie," I piped up softly, and he spun to look at me. "This house is widely known in town as the Varner House."
"Really?" He gaped at me, his eyebrows high into his hairline.
"Yeah, really," I sighed, pulling my hands away from the piano. "So..."
"With his dark hair color, he'd fit in with Bella and Adrian," Rose pointed out, shrugging a shoulder. "But whatever we choose, we'd better do it soon."
"I know," I agreed. "Of course, he'd work with Alice, too."
A squeal of happiness burst into the room, and Alice was beaming in the doorway.
Archie laughed, shaking his head. "Guess she's okay with that," he murmured.
"You think?" I asked with a chuckle. "Archie Brandon it is."
Alice surprised him with a big hug, kissing his cheek. "I have a brother!"
"Hey!" I growled, looking at her like she'd lost her mind. "You've had brothers!"
Bella and Rose snorted into silent hysterics, hiding themselves on the other side of the Christmas tree. Both couldn't wait to see how Alice handled this one.
"Yes, I know," Alice huffed, wrapping one arm around a rather shocked Archie and planting the other hand on her hip. "But none of you wanted my last name!"
"You..." I growled, pointing a finger at her. "You said it wouldn't work. I offered several fifty-four, in sixty-two...not to mention plenty of times in the seventies. I gave up." I gestured between myself and Alice. "We could've pulled off the twin thing!"
Archie fought his smile when Rose and Bella just couldn't stop laughing. He merely glanced between me and Alice like he was watching a tennis match.
"It wouldn't have worked. And you didn't offer my last name. We didn't know my last name! You offered Masen!" Alice countered, rolling her eyes at me.
Grinning at her, I shrugged. "It's the same concept. You would've made a fine Masen."
"Shut up, Edward," she finally huffed, sticking her tongue out at me.
"You know this goes all the way back to Alice stealing his room when she and Jasper first moved in," Rose muttered to Bella, who grinned over at her. "She just...took it. Moved his ass right out into another room."
"You didn't try to stop her, though, did you?" I frowned back at the keyboard in front of me as the girls laughed that much harder. Rolling my eyes, I shook my head.
"Hell, no," Rose guffawed. "I couldn't wait to see your face."
"You sound like siblings to me," Archie noted aloud, which caused us all to laugh.
I glanced up through the library doorway. I could hear the approaching minds. "They're almost here," I stated loudly enough so that everyone in the house could hear me. "Archie," I called, turning to look at him. "You're not twenty. Understand? You could essentially pull off sixteen with me, Bella, Adrian, and Alice. Kevin and Jasper are seventeen, and Rose and Emmett are eighteen. Okay?"
"It's possible you won't be asked, but if you are...I'd say you're seventeen," Bella grunted, standing on her tiptoes to hang an ornament high on the tree. "Carlisle and Esme usually just lets the people assume..." she said, still straining.
Smiling, I got up, walked over to her, and grasped her waist. "Ready, sweet girl?" When she nodded, I lifted her up so that she could quickly hang what was in her hand. "The star, too, baby," I told her, and she took it quickly from Rose.
She popped the star onto the peak of the tree, smiling and nodding. "Okay..."
I swung her around so that I was cradling her in my arms. "Looks good, love," I told her, gazing over the now completely decorated tree.
"Thanks. One tree down, one to go," she sighed, curling into me for just a moment as we took in colorful lights and decorations.
"They're here," Emmett called from the living room.
I sighed, looking down at my girl. "You take care of Archie, baby. Don't let him get overwhelmed."
She smiled, nodded, and kissed me quickly. "I'm all over this."
"I really just...hate that guy," Jasper muttered, a sneer curling his upper lip as we watched Mrs. Delap, Tara, Ronnie, Lacey, Dustin, and Faith climb out of her Ford Expedition. "He simply reeks of hate, mischief – and not in a good way – and deception."
"He's also cheating on Tara," Edward suddenly piped up, his face a dark, fierce mask as he and Emmett put lights on the living room Christmas tree. "With Lacey."
"Aw, hell," Rose groaned, shaking her head and rolling her eyes. "They're all way too young to be playing the Young and the Restless."
I snorted and looked to Archie. "Sometimes, we know way too much, but that's neither here nor there. You okay?"
"Yes," he said softly, blinking rapidly due to the contacts Alice had shoved into the poor boy's eyes, but we'd had no choice. His eyes weren't quite the right color yet.
"Relax," I whispered, guiding him to the sofa in the living room. "I know they make your vision a little blurry, but you'll only have to keep them in until they leave. And I can't imagine that they'll stay long," I explained gently as the doorbell rang.
Several immortal blurs shifted through the room. Emmett, Jasper, and Adrian all took their places in front of the TV to continue a video game they'd been playing almost twenty-four hours solid. Kevin and Edward took their spots at the dining room table to assume the position of studying. There were laptops, books, and papers strewn all over it. Rose and Alice continued to decorate the tree. I took a seat next to Archie to keep him in my shield. It was acting at its best.
Carlisle wasn't in the room, but Esme gave us all a death-glare that said, "You'd better behave," before finally opening the door.
Greetings were exchanged between Esme and Mrs. Delap, and finally, all the humans were inside the house. I glanced at Archie to make sure he was all right before looking over at them. The last time I'd seen Tara and her friends, they'd been dressed for Halloween, but this time, they were in jeans, sweaters, and jackets. Ronnie and Dustin were in hoodies, their hands shoved deep into the front pockets. The expression on the boys' faces screamed that they didn't want to be there, but the girls were a different story altogether. They were curious, their eyes scoping out their surroundings and each and every guy in the room.
"Come in, come in," Esme greeted warmly. "I think you've met just about everyone the night of the fair, but perhaps we'll refresh everyone's memories." She pointed over at the dining room table. "Over there, that's Edward and Kevin. Here in the living room, that's Emmett, Jasper, Adrian, Archie, and Bella. And behind us, Rose and Alice."
All of us murmured hellos or waved, doing our best to seem welcoming.
"Gracious! You've done an amazing job in here. I hardly recognize it," Mrs. Delap gushed, a hand over her heart. "At first, I couldn't imagine so many of you, but it works, doesn't it?"
Esme smiled. "We're quite comfortable, yes. I just made a pot of coffee. Why don't you join me in the kitchen? Carlisle will be right out." She turned to the still wide-eyed teens that were silent. "You kids make yourselves at home."
"No, don't do that," Mrs. Delap corrected wryly. "You are all to be on your best behavior...or there will be no movie and no mall. Am I understood?"
"Yeah, Mom, we get it," Tara sighed, rolling her eyes.
I actually liked Tara. And it wasn't because of how her boyfriend mistreated her. She seemed to be the better of all of her friends. Faith had set her sights on every boy in the living room. Lacey was eye-fucking the dining room like Kevin and Edward were the last males she'd ever get to see. Tara, however, looked a little worried at Dustin and Ronnie, who were locked in on my sisters.
Rolling my eyes to Archie, I spoke low enough that only my family could've heard me. "Remember what I told you? Hear their heartbeats?" I asked, and he nodded. "They're nervous. You can smell it, hear it. But they also can't help but be attracted, too. It's dangerous, really. If we were on the other diet, this would not end well." He smirked, but I still checked on him. "How are you doing?"
"I'm fine, Bella. I only smell you," he said with a sweet grin, which immediately caught Faith's attention.
Emmett huffed a laugh and punched Archie's leg lightly, but he turned his attention to Ronnie. "Yo, Ronnie!" he barked, making the boy jump – most likely on purpose because he was licking his lips at the sight of Rosalie's stretched physique as she decorated the tree. "You play?" he asked, holding up the controller.
"Nah, but Dustin does," he stated, swallowing nervously and shoving his friend forward.
"Damn, isn't this the one that just came yesterday?" Dustin gushed, plopping down onto the loveseat.
"Yup," Jasper said with a chuckle, handing over another controller. "Here...we'll start a new game. We've been getting our asses kicked by this kid in Paraguay."
"Yeah...there's a kid in Germany that stomps me in Madden, dude. I don't get it." Dustin shook his head, laughing a little. "It's American football."
"That shit's big over there, though," Emmett told him with a big grin.
The four boys lost themselves immediately into the game, calling out instructions, laughing, and trash talking. A conflicting emotion came over me because Lacey had wandered into the dining room and was asking Kevin and Edward if home-schooling was different or harder than regular school. Her smile, her hair twirling, and her flirtatious giggle were all so fucking obvious.
But Faith had taken a seat on the other side of Archie, and I feared that was too close, too much for him. I had to focus my attention on him. He looked nervous, but I wasn't so sure it was totally due to her rapid heartbeat.
"You weren't at the fair," Faith piped up. "I'm Faith."
Archie's brow furrowed as he shook his head no. "No...I wasn't. I'm Archie," he stammered quietly.
"Why didn't you go?" she asked, tilting her head, but Archie glanced at me before focusing his attention on his hands in his lap.
"Archie just got over the flu," I answered for him, watching Ronnie fall down in the loveseat next to his friend Dustin when Rose practically blew him off. Tara joined him, but he paid her no attention. "He couldn't make it Halloween."
"Oh," Faith said with a smile. "You feeling better?"
"Yeah...a little," Archie murmured.
Oh, he was so damn shy, and she was flirting badly. And suddenly, I saw my Edward in him. It wasn't that Faith was unattractive. She was actually very pretty, but our immortality made our attraction to the opposite sex – or same sex, if you were Kevin and Adrian – pretty cut and dry. It was there – permanently – or it wasn't. For poor just wasn't there.
I glanced across the room to see Lacey moving in on Edward. I snorted but shook my head.
"Edward," I called, and I wanted to laugh when his head shot up nervously, which only changed to a narrow-eyed glare when he saw my amused face. "We should play darts or something."
I couldn't communicate with him silently due to my shield. And I didn't want to take chances with shifting it around because I needed it solidly around Archie for his peace of mind. But I also needed to give everyone some space.
"Yeah, we can do that," he agreed, standing up from the table. "Anyone else want to play?"
Edward's offer was sweet, polite, and was taken up by all the girls. Yeah, no big surprise there. Kevin, Tara, and Lacey all followed him into the library.
Faith looked to Archie. "Are you playing?"
"I've never played," he admitted softly but looked over to me.
Grinning, I poked his shoulder playfully. "Come on. It's not my best game, but I'll teach you."
He chuckled a little, standing up when I did. "What's your best game?" he asked.
"Pool." I smiled over at him. "Ask Edward."
The three of us left Ronnie and Dustin with Emmett, Jasper, and Adrian to play their video game. They were so enthralled, that I wasn't sure they even noticed we left.
As we walked by Rose and Alice, Rose chuckled. "We should totally ask for a pool table for Christmas."
I was still laughing when I led Faith and Archie into the library. Tara and Lacey were watching Edward open up the dart board as Kevin took out all the darts we had.
"What's so funny?" Edward asked, wearing a smirk because he knew damn well what we'd said.
"Rose wants a pool table for Christmas," I told him, grinning at his laugh, which caused every girl's eyes in the room to glaze over.
"Archie, she's a pool shark. Don't let her fool you," Edward told him, but then he walked by to speak softly. "Hanging in there?"
Archie nodded fervently. "Is she really?" he asked, and I had to give him credit. He was doing really, really well maintaining not only his behavior, but several different conversations.
"She is," Edward said, shooting me a wink and handing over my personal darts. "Here, sweet girl."
I wanted to grin smugly when he dropped that term of endearment. I wasn't sure if it was done on purpose or not, but it did its job because Lacey's face filled with confusion.
"Come on, Bells...let's play," Kevin boomed from across the room. "Pick your team."
"Okay," I sighed. "Archie and Edward."
"Damn...I'm a dead man." Kevin laughed, shaking his head.
"Don't pick me, Kevin," Tara suddenly piped up. "I'm awful at that game. I'll put holes in the wall...not the board."
We all chuckled at her, especially when her friends nodded wide-eyed in agreement. Tara seemed content to walk around the library once the game started. She eyed the musical instruments on the wall and around the room, but I noticed her eyes kept falling to Edward's piano.
Archie did very well his first few throws. Edward explained how the points worked, how the teams scored, and I taught him how to throw the dart to make it look like he missed. Kevin took the lead on keeping the girls' attention, but I was pretty sure it wasn't working for Faith. She was crushing on poor Archie. Hard.
From the other rooms, I could hear Mrs. Delap deep in discussion with Carlisle and Esme, and my brothers were thoroughly enjoying themselves with new video game partners.
Leaning against the back of the sofa, I kept my eyes on the dart game. Archie was doing okay, and he was still under my shield. Faith and Lacey were completely charmed by Kevin, and it was easy to see why. Kevin was funny, laid-back, and put the girls at ease because it was obvious that he was off limits. Edward, on the other hand, was merely being polite, guiding Archie, teasing Kevin, and encouraging me when it was time for me to throw.
I fought my smile when a heavy arm draped over my shoulders.
"Yes, Edward?" I asked.
"We need twenty points," he sighed forlornly, and I wanted to laugh because the ruthless competitor in my husband hated faking a game.
"So...try," I said with a grin, looking up at his handsome face. "There will be other games, you know."
He laughed, once again catching the attention Lacey...and Tara this time. He shot me a wink before walking up to take his throws.
I heard Tara's approach. It was all I had to rely on, since my shield was around me. She glanced between me and the game, matching my leaning stance against the sofa. I didn't have to read minds like Edward to know what she was putting together in her head. She'd seen us a few times now, so it had to have been obvious.
"You're together..." she surmised in a whisper, though I knew my entire family could hear her.
I gazed over at her as Archie took his turn. My shield shifted a little because she meant well. She was a good person. I wasn't so sure about her friends, but Tara was okay. I had to tug it back, which made Archie feel the shift, and he inhaled sharply but relaxed when I held on.
I knew for a fact how humans saw the Cullens when I first met Edward. I knew that two couples living under the same roof was odd, no matter what. I'd seen it, heard all about it on my first day at Forks High, so I knew that I had to handle this delicately.
When I didn't answer her immediately, she nodded and smiled knowingly. "It's okay. There's a boy at school that stays at a halfway house. He's seeing the girl down the hall. It happens, I suppose."
I chuckled, giving Edward a quick glance, but he was pretending that he wasn't listening. Looking back to Tara, I simply said, "Yes, it happens."
"Do your parents know?" she asked so very softly.
"Yeah, they do."
She smiled. "Cool." Nodding, she gave the library a long, slow gaze, her eyes landing on the piano one more time. "Who plays the piano?" she asked aloud, running a finger down the shiny black surface.
"Edward does," Kevin answered with a grin, smacking Edward's back. "Though he's trying to teach me. But that beauty belongs to him, if that's what you're asking."
Something in Edward's demeanor shifted, and his brow furrowed, his head tilting slightly. But when he spoke, it was kind and soft.
"Do you play?" he asked.
"I used to."
Faith scoffed, her eyes rolling. "Used to..." she snorted. "She's really good. But she doesn't play anymore."
"Yeah, she went to state competitions two years in a row," Lacey added.
Edward chuckled. "You can play it. I don't mind."
"Really?" she asked, blinking up at him.
"Really. Here," he said with a small smile. He pulled out the bench and lifted the cover over the keys.
Archie appeared at my side, speaking low enough that the humans couldn't hear. "Wonder what she's thinking..."
"I don't know," I murmured back, shaking my head.
Tara took a seat, and her hands shook slightly as she placed them over the keys. But what came out of those fingers was completely and utterly impressive...and beautiful. It was Chopin, if I wasn't mistaken – something Edward had played more times than I could count. It was haunting and a touch sad, but as far as I could tell, she never missed a note.
Tara's friends smiled, Edward nodded in approval, his eyebrows raising high, and Kevin grinned and clapped when it was over.
"You say you used to play?" Edward asked, huffing a slight laugh.
"Yeah...I quit."
"Pussy music," we heard from the doorway, and I had to place a hand on Archie's shoulder. His growl was low as he glared at Ronnie.
"And there's why she quit," Faith sang under her breath. "Idiot."
"Um...excuse me, troglodyte?" Kevin sang, wearing a sickly false smile. "No one asked you. No one shook your cage or yanked your chain."
"What the hell's a troglo...whatever?" Ronnie scoffed.
"Here," Kevin said, walking to the bookcase and snatching up a thick book. "Look it up. I'll give you a starts with t."
Grinning, I shook my head, but it fell quickly when Edward stepped forward, taking the book from Kevin.
"I'll save you the trouble," Edward said, using the tone of voice that was low, soft, but no less menacing than if he was growling the words. "What my brother just called you is a caveman...someone uneducated, classless, rude, and socially inept."
I winced when the rest of my brothers popped up behind Ronnie.
"It's crap music," Ronnie argued, rolling his eyes.
The one person that I didn't expect to speak up commanded the attention of everyone in the room.
"You weren't asked your opinion. She's really good," Archie stated, his voice calm, just like Edward's had been.
Ronnie opened his mouth to speak, stepping closer to Archie. I had to place a hand on Archie's shoulder because I couldn't let Ronnie get too close. Not only would it test all sorts of bloodlust boundaries, but Ronnie would quickly realize that he couldn't touch Archie, and that would be really bad news.
Faith stepped forward, her face fierce. "If you open your mouth in their house, Ronnie, then I hope they all kick your ass. You deserve it for many, many reasons," Faith told him, pointing a finger at him. "And if I miss out on the mall and the movies because you're too ignorant to keep your dumbass opinions to yourself, then I'll kick your ass myself."
"What the fuck ever," Ronnie said with a derisive laugh. He stepped out of the room, and I heard the front door open and close.
Gazing over at Archie, I watched as his contacts blinked away. The venom in his eyes had dissolved them.
"We should get some air, Arch. Okay?" I told him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and guiding him out of the library.
"Okay," he said reluctantly.
I guided him through the house, leaving everyone behind. When we cut through the kitchen, Carlisle stopped us.
"Everything okay, Bella? Archie?" he asked, his gaze flickering between us. I knew that he'd heard what had transpired in the library, but he had to ask in front of Mrs. Delap.
"Everything's fine, but Archie needs some air," I explained before leading us out onto the back deck.
When the door closed, Carlisle spoke to Mrs. Delap, saying, "Archie's our newest foster child. He's a little uncomfortable around people he doesn't know."
"Interesting way to put it, don't you think?" I asked with a chuckle as I sat Archie down on the deck steps. "Okay?"
"Yeah," he sighed with a nod, but his face looked crestfallen.
"Hey..." I shook him a little. "You did amazing. Like really, really well."
His dark eyes met mine, though he didn't look quite convinced. "I wanted to hit him. More than that, I wanted to..."
I laughed softly. "You weren't alone. Trust me. I do believe Edward would've held him down for you."
Archie smiled a little at that. "Umm...can I ask you a question?"
"You just did," I teased him, and he grinned. "Go ahead."
"Umm..." He swallowed nervously, looking down at his hands. "What did I miss? I mean...that girl in there..."
I tilted my head at him, but understanding hit me quickly. "Faith," I guessed, and he nodded. "She was flirting with you."
His brow wrinkled, and he looked uncomfortable. "Are all girls so...forward?"
I giggled. "You should have this conversation with the guys, sweetie. Times have changed, or at least that's what Edward continuously tells me."
Archie grinned. "You did the same?"
I shook my head and smiled. "I don't know, Archie. It was different for us. We were mates. I honestly believe it happened the first time we saw each other, so we played by a different set of rules. Our own rules."
"Mates," he sighed, frowning at the word. "But you knew."
"Hey," I whispered, turning to face him. "Yes, I knew. It's okay if you didn't like her flirting. There's nothing wrong with you." He nodded but looked away from me. "It's okay if she made you uncomfortable. You're not used to interacting with humans, let alone dealing with modern girls." I shot him a wink when he glanced up at me. "Archie," I sighed, my nose wrinkling a little. "Girls are taught now to be independent and strong, to take what they want, and to follow their dreams. They can be just as relentless as men when it comes to pursuing the opposite sex, dating, flirting."
"There's no more courting, Archie," I heard behind me, and I snorted into a giggle as Edward sat down with us. "And yes, Bella was a relentless flirt."
"Shut up, Edward!" I laughed, shaking my head, but leaned into the kiss to my temple.
Archie smiled at the two of us, but he looked to Edward. "I didn't like it."
"It can be uncomfortable, especially when you don't feel the same," Edward stated firmly. "But forward women aside," he said with a chuckle, poking me, "you did really well."
"But they're not gone," Archie surmised, "because I can still hear the heartbeats."
"Soon, Archie," I promised.
He nodded but looked to me. "Take it down...your shield. Let me see."
"Hold my hand first," I instructed, understanding that he was simply testing himself. I dropped my shield, and he flinched, inhaling deeply.
He touched his throat with the tips of his fingers, swallowed hard, but looked between me and Edward.
"Yeah, it burns," Edward agreed now that he could hear Archie's thoughts. "But you have to focus on them. They have lives and parents and friends. They're only sixteen, seventeen. They have goals and things they still have yet to see. Don't focus on the scent."
"The scent that's getting closer," he said, frowning as he gazed over to the corner of the house.
The acrid smell of cigarette smoke met my nose along with a potent yet sweet scent of blood – blood that was laced with anger and adrenaline. Ronnie walked slowly around from the side the house, his phone in hand and a cigarette hanging from his mouth.
Edward huffed softly, shaking his head. "He's texting yet another girl. He's a walking disease waiting to happen."
"He's mean to Tara," I growled low. "I smell bruises on her. If he wants other girls, why do that?"
Edward sneered but turned to me and Archie. "His home-life is...horrific. Mrs. Delap treats him better than his own mother. He needs that...but he's used to controlling every situation."
"Tara should know," I sighed.
"She does," Edward said with a grimace. "I saw it in her mind when he made fun of her playing."
"Oh, hell," I groaned.
"In fact, she's coming now," Edward said, turning toward the side where Tara was barreling around the corner. "And she's about to call him on it."
Ronnie and Tara were oblivious to us. The were a few yards away, but we could hear them crystal clear.
"So who was that?" Tara asked, her face showing more hurt than anger.
"Warren," he answered, and even from where I was, I could hear the lie kick up his heart rate.
"Liar," she scoffed, rolling her eyes, and turned to leave him. "First Lacey and now...whoever that is."
"What did you call me, bitch?" Ronnie snapped, which caused the men sitting on either side of me to flinch, especially when he reached out and snagged her arm.
Edward moved before I could stop him, but I securely wrapped my shield around Archie, whispering to him. "Not a chance, Archie. Let Edward handle it."
I knew Edward could pull off the human facade in this situation better than any of us. I also knew Archie was itching to help him, because a low, continuous growl vibrated from him.
"Let her go," Edward stated, his face fierce. "Let her go, or I'll make sure her mother sees this."
"You need to mind your own business, motherfucker," Ronnie spat, glancing up when the deck doors opened behind me. My whole family spilled out behind me and Archie. "This is between me and her."
"Not when it's in my yard," Edward sneered. "I will remove your hand from her. Don't doubt me."
"Yo, bro," Emmett called. "You need to some help? Asshole forgetting his manners again?"
"Something like that," Edward said with a dark chuckle.
Ronnie's demeanor darkened until the door slammed open one more time.
"Ronald Irvine...let her go," Mrs. Delap bellowed from the deck. "It's time you and I had a chat. Get in the car. All of you!"
Ronnie released Tara's hand, but his eyes landed on my husband. " far from over," he threatened. "You're dead."
Edward huffed a laugh, shaking his head. "You can try. You won't succeed, but I promise you this... I won't back down like she does," he told him, jerking a thumb behind him. "Though, I get a feeling that she's done with you," he taunted with a chuckle.
My brothers and sisters all laughed, but Dustin pulled Ronnie out of my husband's face, following Mrs. Delap and the girls to the car. In fact, we all followed them around to the front. Tara looked mortified and scared as she glanced between Ronnie and her mother.
Alice came to stand beside me as the Ford Expedition backed out. "He's coming back," she said knowingly. "He knows he's busted. Mrs. Delap is about to put an end to things. He'll want revenge."
Carlisle sighed, looking to Edward, who was still pretty pissed off. "Then we'll be ready. Edward, did the right thing by stepping in."
Edward's nose flared with his temper, but he nodded, clawing at his hair. "He's...trouble."
Emmett snorted, flexing his enormous arms. "Then we'll give him some...trouble. Pixie, you say the word when he's coming."
"Sure thing," Alice sang with a big grin. "Now...let's finish decorating! Boys...get those lights up!"
I groaned right along with everyone else but turned to Archie making sure he was calm again. His face was still pretty solemn. "Awesome job. Got me?"
Archie's grin was slow, sweet, and disbelieving, but he nodded. "Got it, Bella."
"Good," I said, releasing him from my shield and reaching for Edward's hand. "Now, come help me with this last damn tree."


tracey said...

yeah archie and edward for wanting to kick ronnie's ass! hehehe

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